Friday links: doughnuts for science, why you work so hard, and more

Also this week: RIP Val Smith, how to do a Reddit AMA, Galileo is overrated, and more.

From Jeremy:

Very sad news via Jay Lennon: Val Smith has passed away after a long illness. I knew Val, though not well. He was a wonderful, kind man and a terrific ecologist. Val’s research focused on the physiological, community, and ecosystem ecology of phytoplankton, particularly nutrient use and its consequences. He had a keen eye for novel applications of fundamental ideas, as with his recent work on the ecology of algal biofuel production. Smith et al. 2005 PNAS is one of my favorite data syntheses ever, showing that phytoplankton species richness scales with area in a consistent way from microcosms to ocean basins. He will be greatly missed. Obituary here.

Ryan Avent on why academics and other professionals work so hard. Nice reflective essay. One thing he doesn’t mention is that we often feel like we work longer hours than we actually do.

Margaret Kosmala on the ins and outs of a Reddit AMA for scientific outreach. Lots of good practical advice.

Advice on how to keep talkative guys (really, any talkative student) from dominating the discussion in seminar classes. From philosophy, and so somewhat specific to that discipline.* But most of the advice generalizes. Some of it is useful for lab meetings too.

Is Galileo overrated? (ht Marginal Revolution)

*Anecdotally, it’s my impression that philosophy tends to attract the sort of male student described in the post. A type I recognize because I am that student. 🙂

From Meg:

I thought I’d linked to this before, but couldn’t find it, so I’m linking to it now: celebrating achievements…with doughnuts. I can definitely get behind that! It relates to my old post on the little things. We celebrate lab birthdays, but haven’t been in the habit of (formally) celebrating things like exciting results, paper submissions, etc. But I think maybe we should!

5 thoughts on “Friday links: doughnuts for science, why you work so hard, and more

  1. I was a talkative student. But I found that when I left room for others or even encouraged them I got silence. I used to go to test reviews with a list of questions. I’d ask one and everyone would write. Then wed all sit in silence until I asked another one.

    • Yes, that’s a common experience. What it shows is that “don’t call on the talkative student and instead just wait for someone else to raise their hand” isn’t an effective way to start a group discussion. Even if the instructor says something like “C’mon, let’s hear from someone besides Jim.” Hence the various ideas suggested in the linked post.

      • The post you linked to has some good techniques. I’d like to suggest one used by elementary and secondary teachers called “Think, Pair, Share” (you might have to change the name for college). In “Think, Pair, Share” students are given a challenging, complex question. Then, they have a bit of time to think about it and write down their thoughts/answers. Next, they talk it over with the person next to them or a pre-formed partner/small group and finally there is a class discussion. This works best if the class discussion is started with random cold calling. I use versions of this technique frequently, and it reliably gets even very shy and reticent students participating substantially.

      • No one’s too old for “Think, Pair, Share” – I use it in grad courses.

  2. I would have hated Think Pair Share.

    Sometimes during undergrad I’d go to study sessions with groups of students. Usually it wound up with me trying to explain things to them. They’d all agree that the prof said X, I’d be trying to explain that s/he would not have said X because it doesn’t make sense given A,B &C.

    IMO TPS takes you into students teaching each other the wrong thing.

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